SOLD for £38,500
Our coronavirus policy:
Here at Berlinetta we put the health and wellbeing of our customers and clients above all else. We therefore continue to follow government advice and take precautions in line with public health guidance on COVID-19 on a daily basis. At present our online auction platform remains open for business as usual but even though buying and selling online is completely safe, inspecting and then collecting your new vehicle demands special care and attention to protect all involved. We have come up with ways of doing this which we believe are 100% safe and which we would be very happy to talk you through in detail, but the headlines are:
Thank you, take care and happy bidding.
“A sporting car for the young and for the young at heart” S. C. H. Davis. Road Test of The Austin-Healey 100. The Autocar.
When Donald Healey, with the help of son Geoff, conceived the first mock-up of his Healey Hundred in his attic, nobody could have predicted the impact they would have on the sports car market in the years to come. Making a first appearance at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1952, the Healey Hundred gained enormous attention and a deal was done on the spot with Sir Leonard Lord of BMC to establish the Austin-Healey marque and get the car into mass production. Donald had ambitions to dominate the North American market and this was his first step towards achieving just that.
The first fruit of the partnership was the 2,660 cc, four cylinder, 90 BHP Austin-Healey 100/4 and production of the first series, known as the BN1 started in 1953. A few tweaks such as an extra gearbox ratio resulted in the BN2 but a step change was the introduction of the six-cylinder BN4 (don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything, there was no BN3) 100/6 in 1956. Despite having a slightly smaller displacement than the four, power did increase to 102 BHP but the 100/6’s extra weight largely negated this. Sales were slightly disappointing and there was widespread criticism of the 100/6’s poorer acceleration and the new 2+2 seating arrangement that Healey was convinced customers wanted. The engine issues were ironed out after just over a year with a power hike to 117 BHP courtesy of a new cylinder head and manifolds, though customers were still unhappy with the compromises that had been made to accommodate the extra infant seats which necessitated shifting the spare wheel into the boot, reducing its available capacity considerably. Things were finally resolved in 1958 with the launch of the more pure two-seater BN6 variant of the 100/6 and while it may not have suited the ‘family man’, it is worth remembering that cads like Terry Thomas never worried about accommodating any +2s…
The 100/6 evolved into the 3000 with, over the next few years, some positive developments (an enlarged 3 litre engine ultimately giving some 150 BHP, a slick centre change gearbox and front disc brakes) along with, arguably, some less suitable ‘improvements’ such as wind-up windows, a wrap-around wind screen and a more GT-esc cockpit.
Some great lockdown games:
'Best sandwich filling?'
'Which member of Little Mix would make the best US President?' (Obviously that would be Jesy who could be relied upon to take a strong stance with Putin and forge favourable trade links with a post-Brexit UK)
'If you could only have one car, which would it be?'
However, one of the most popular ones in the socially distanced Berlinetta offices is, ‘What is the best specification for a Big Healey?’ Unfortunately we don’t think it exists within the confines of Austin-Healey’s Table d’hôte menu and the gourmet looking for the definitive machine probably needs to go À la carte to fully satisfy their taste buds. For us the 100/6 in BN6 two-seater form has the best, purest looks despite the 100/4’s sleek fold flat ‘screen which is offset somewhat by its basking shark radiator grill. Less contentious is the engine where the 3000’s trumps all others for obvious reasons and while you are there you might as well purloin a later car’s short and sweet shifting centre change gearbox, with associated overdrive of course. So that’s the major nuts and bolts sorted, now the all-important details; out go the bumpers, rear exit exhaust (you’ll only knock it off anyway), front drum brakes and S.U. carburettors and in come a fruity free flowing side exit exhaust, discs and triple Webers. A pair of wing vents and a hardtop would be on the list to keep the engine cool and the driver (plus one) warm for year-round enjoyment. Stronger seventy-two spoke wire wheels would be a good idea given the power hike with the associated uptick in aesthetics a bonus, albeit a welcome one.
As the late, great Bruce Forsyth would say, “Good game, good game.” At least on paper but try and translate this into reality and you will quickly find your bank account emptier than a politician’s promise. Factor in a projected completion date that redefines mañana on an almost weekly basis and the journey is likely to make the destination somewhere you wish you had never actually visited. If only there was something already done... With a (potential) discount… And available now (or at least before Christmas)…
To quote Michael Caine AKA Charlie Crocker, “Hang on a minute lads, I got a great idea.” And this is it; a Big Healey built to the perfect specification. OK, we accept it is, to a degree, a matter of opinion and there are two options; you can either agree with us or be wrong!
Subject of a restoration that ended up taking some thirteen years (mañana, mañana) this Healey was the personal project of a visionary who was clearly on the same page as us regarding the ultimate example. Having sourced the basis for his epic project in the USA (for maximum choice and minimum rust) he repatriated it in 1991 and then undertook a ground up restoration covering every aspect of the car, structurally, mechanically and cosmetically. Body off, chassis up, stem to stern, whatever terminology you want to use, this was a very comprehensive program of works a few photographs of which are shown in the photo gallery.
Finally finished and UK registered in 2005 the Healey was used through to 2012 covering just 2,300 miles before it was sold to the last private owner, a lady with excellent taste and a penchant for classic car touring. Needless to say that during her tenure not much needed doing to the car other than simply driving and enjoying it. A ‘Works’ hardtop was acquired which was duly restored and fitted while some new ignition components were installed and the engine’s set up was perfected by Sigma Engineering on their rolling road. A further 3,700 miles have since been covered with 700 mile jaunts into France not a problem.
Restoration work when paid for by a previous owner is nearly always a good thing though many would argue that unless you do it yourself or at least oversee its execution, you can never be sure of its quality. Straight out of the box (or workshop) restored cars tend to look good but the true gauge of their calibre is their condition some years and miles down the road and this Healey certainly passes that particular test with flying colours. The body and chassis still look to be in superb order with excellent panel fit and shut lines, despite the cars semi-competition aura which might understandably lower ones expectations. The swage lines that run down the flanks of a Big Healey are always a good pointer and on this example they align very well while the virtually blemish-free British Racing Green paintwork is deep, even and lustrous; a couple of chips to the trailing edge of driver’s door were all we could spot and these are shown in the photo gallery. The ‘Works’ hardtop (an original item as opposed to a modern reproduction) has also been restored and finished to the same high standard. The chassis is well protected with a robust paint finish without any major dents or chips, much less any evidence of corrosion and a generous coating of a rust preventative ‘Waxoyl’ has certainly helped here. While under the car, we noted that the sump is (literally) in pretty good shape as they tend to get a bit of a pounding in these low slung beasts and that it, the gearbox, overdrive and rear axle are all, by the standards of the day, dry and oil-tight. With the addition of servo assisted disc brakes to the front wheels, an adjustable brake balance valve tucked up near the off side rear shock absorber is also good to see.
Though there is not much chrome-work to worry about, the rear ‘bumperettes’ are in near perfect condition as are the boot hinges, handles, lights and so on. There are a number of lovely alloy detail touches such as the ‘Aston’ fuel filler cap, pressed period AA GB plate, wing vents, front grill/air intake and the mounting brackets for a pair of Lucas spotlights which all demonstrate great attention to detail.
Quality Fulda Y-2000, 185/70 R 15 tyres with plenty of tread left are mounted on painted 72 spoke wire wheels, nicely offset with unmarked chrome spinners; these ‘black and rounds’ are a good option that offer plenty of grip and still look period correct.
During the restoration the interior was re-trimmed in black leather piped in green and it is still in lovely condition, as are the carpets which were presumably fitted at the same time. The more recently added ‘Works’ hardtop has been treated to a new headlining while all its fixtures and fittings have been restored, again to a high standard. The hood looks to be virtually unused and its frame remains in as restored condition. A slightly more used full tonneau cover is also present so every configuration of weather equipment is included. A nice leather rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel is fitted along with a 2 KG ‘ABC’ powder fire extinguisher and a handy power outlet has been installed for mobile phone charging and the like.
Under the bonnet the 3000 engine, rebuilt and compatible with unleaded fuel, looks super-purposeful dressed with correct Italian made triple 40 DCOE Webers mounted on John Chatham Racing inlet manifolds. Meaty tubular exhaust manifolds – heat wrapped, you will be pleased to know if you have ever suffered from ‘Big Healey melted shoe sole syndrome’ – add to the no nonsense, well thought out impression the engine bay gives. An aluminium rocker cover complete with ‘Monza’ filler is a bit more than a nice cosmetic touch as it also gives a noticeable reduction in rocker-gear noise. Twin throttle cables control the carburettors which are fed from an aluminium fuel tank via a boot mounted Facet fuel pump and Filter King fuel filter/pressure regulator mounted on the bulkhead. An aluminium catch tank, alternator and air horns all speak to a well thought out build with great attention to detail that has resulted in a usable, go anywhere machine.
Slip into the snug cabin, switch the ignition on and the solid state fuel pump ticks into life. A few prods of the accelerator pedal and one of the starter button and the freshly fitted high torque starter motor spins the big six engine with consummate ease, bringing it to life almost instantly. A few seconds juggling with the accelerator and it clears its throat via the vocal though not obtrusive stainless steel side exit exhaust. Torquey and docile at low revolutions the engine picks up sweetly and its induction and exhaust notes harden but never become excessively loud – this is clearly a machine set up for covering multiple touring miles. With its mechanical components rebuilt just a few thousand miles ago the Healey unsurprisingly drives very well indeed, feeling taut and absolutely rock solid. Despite the steering wheel being down a few inches in diameter from the standard version, (not to mention tyres a tad wider) the rack and pinion steering conversion fitted during the restoration makes for less effort and more feedback at the rim than any other Big Healey we have driven. OK, so it is not quite up to Lotus Elan standards when it comes to precision and feel but then again, famously, neither is a McLaren F1.
A concise history file contains various invoices for work carried out and parts purchased over the past few years such as the high torque starter motor and a replacement oil pressure/water temperature gauge. Documents pertaining to the registration of the Healey in the UK, insurance valuations (the most recent of which was for £65,000), eight MOT certificates from 2005 to 2012 confirming the 6,000 miles it has covered since its restoration and a British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate are also included. Both the current V5C and a copy of the Austin-Healey’s one and only preceding version are also on file along with a couple of tax discs. There are also a number of photographs of the restoration as shown in the photo gallery. A top quality fitted indoor car cover is also included in the sale.
Like a child picking the very best bits of Christmas (while leaving the sprouts and Great Aunt kisses well alone) to make their own quintessential experience, this Healey is for us the perfect individual ingredients blended together to make the most desirable machine to wake up to on the day – or any day come to that. Great looking machines with gutsy performance and a soundtrack to match, is there anything that epitomises the Great British Sports Car better than the Big Healey, and more especially this particular example?